Immigrants need market-rate housing
Whether in Ireland or the USA, social housing alone can't meet the need for mobility
The story has a clear thesis, though being a feature rather than an op-ed, it doesn’t make a clear statement. The basic point of the article, though, is that housing costs are fueling an anti-immigrant political backlash when the true cause of rising prices is a lack of public spending on public housing. A researcher named Rory Hearne is quoted to this effect, and no serious alternative hypotheses are contemplated. The article also outlines the perspective of the xenophobes, so readers are left with the impression that for good cosmopolitan liberals, the only options are siding with the immigrant-hating bigots or going in for social housing.
The recent xenophobic riots in Dublin capitalized on the grievances of people struggling to cover their housing costs and exposed to the world the deep fractures that the crisis has created. But the issue is decades in the making, experts say, and has become the driving force in Irish politics.
“Policy created this crisis,” said Rory Hearne, an associate professor in social policy at Maynooth University, west of Dublin. “It’s not immigrants, it’s not asylum seekers,” he added, naming groups the far right accuses of pushing up housing demand. “The housing policy created this housing crisis, and that complete refusal to develop public housing and to build affordable housing.”
As you might expect, my suspicion upon reading this was that despite talk in the article of Ireland moving toward “a reliance on the market,” there are likely very sharp restrictions on the use of market mechanisms to match supply to demand in the Irish system. And this is, in fact, the case.
But even though the broad story here is pretty clear (and unfortunately common), I do think that Ireland is an interesting case study.